Jan Term trips highlight history, education, conservation

February 12, 2008

As they have in past years, students studied during Jan Term photography in Italy, theatre in London and Ireland, tropical marine biology in the Bahamas, and the Holocaust in Poland, Israel and Jordan. Others ventured to the Philippines, Dominican Republic and Central Europe on some of McDaniel’s newest study tours. Here are some highlights:

The Philippines: An experiment in community-based coastal conservation
Eight students traveled to the Philippine island of Bohol, where Environmental Policy and Science Lecturer Casey Gustowarow ’03 worked on coastal conservation as a Peace Corps volunteer.

“Going with people who had lived there and worked with the people really allowed us to see the Philippines in a different light than what the typical tourists see,” said Environmental Policy and Science major Laura Fralinger ’08.

Students examined the tropical coastal ecosystems and how people use them for their livelihood. Faced with overpopulation and overfished waters, the people of Bohol developed marine sanctuaries and forms of eco-tourism to support their economy.

“This experience will help me better understand the pros and cons to different types of ecotourism as well as how to deal with conservation in a third world country,” says Environmental Policy and Science Major Jamie Smith ’09. “What surprised me the most was how poor most of the islanders were yet they were so happy all the time and the nicest people that were willing to help you with anything.”

Gustowarow is currently teaching the course “Real World Conservation.”

Treasures of Central Europe
Forty students explored Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary during the course “Treasures of Central Europe,” led by Associate Professor of Foreign Languages Mohamed Esa. While traveling, students studied the current events and history of each country.

“Any expansion of international knowledge, especially practical international knowledge, will aid in making me a more rounded individual and a more open-minded person,” says Dual Philosophy and Religious Studies Major Katelyn Kernan ’08. “Since I am planning on going to graduate school abroad, any worldly travels I can take beforehand will help me get used to being away from home for extended periods of time.”

Students toured Berlin, the capital of reunified Germany; Heidelberg, Germany's oldest university town; Munich, Bavaria's most important city and the residence of the historic Wittelsbach family. Other stops included Dachau, Germany's first concentration camp; Vienna, the city of music; Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart: Prague and Budapest, where McDaniel College has a campus.

“As a sociology major, I am frequently forced to see things from perspectives other than my own,” says Nicole Rosche ’10. “By being exposed to, and immersed in, other cultures, a person is forced to make new opinions about the world, the way things work, and what changes should possibly be enacted. For example, I chose to do a short paper on the usage of wind energy from wind turbines/windmills in Germany, which is much more efficient, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly than normal energy sources such as coal or oil.  Because I researched this more, I have gained an increased interest in certain areas of environmental policy, and will probably seek to incorporate that into future studies.”

Dominican Republic and the Educational Life Experiences of the Deaf
Mark Rust, assistant professor of Education, led the course “Dominican Republic Experience of the Deaf.” Six McDaniel students, along with eight students from Wesley Seminary, taught lessons for the Deaf in the Dominican Republic.

“The experience made me realize how fortunate I am to live in a country that puts a strong emphasis on quality education,” says Sociology major Monica Horner ’10, who worked with a class of about 15 students ages 18-24. “Although there were a few students who were very skilled in American Sign Language, there was the other extreme, with other students not knowing any manual communication.  For example, one of the 19-year-old female students could not even finger-spell her own name.  This large gap must make teaching a lesson to the class very difficult, even for the most skilled signing teachers.”

Utilizing sign language, students taught simple lessons and acted out stories including Little Red Riding Hood and a Dominican folk tale at two schools for Deaf students.

“Their language is 80 percent similar to American Sign Language,” says Rust. “But some of the students had severe learning disabilities and behavior issues. Some students read on a first-grade level.”

There is no teacher-training program for teachers of the Deaf in the Dominican Republic, says Rust, who hopes to bring graduate students on next year’s trip, so our graduate students can have some first-hand experience working with Deaf students from a developing country.